Thoughts through the quiet time

Now that it’s gone a bit quiet around my house, and I’ve been out of game for a while I feel like sharing some short thoughts on gaming, which touch on MMORPGS and WoW.

Gaming wise, a few odd sessions of D3 and Sir, You are Being Hunted is all I’m fitting in, and that was/is mostly months ago. I finally finished the basic story of D3 and watched the lovely cut-scene/movie. Those Blizzard folks still know how to make a reasonable ending. Playing on with D3 without the expansion feels like running on a hamster wheel because the story is over. So now I either pay for the next story segment or do something else. Fair choice too, the game had enough content to make the initial purchase worth while, and its not like I finished it early.

Even if I had more time I’m not sure I would be installing a new MMO either. The banter about WildStar seems to say its pretty and interesting, but is very much the same as what has come before. That is not a bad idea for games as a moderate subscriber base can keep a company profitable for years; but after the zest and spin of the announcements – its kind of a dull outcome. I ran-up an Eve trail account and almost logged in. Almost, but then remembered that the game is slow and takes more time than I’ve got at the moment, and the account has lapsed. I thought about StarWars too as it’s free, and I could play the each of the class quests through to max level and then delete the character/account. Hmm, perhaps.

I miss logging in to something to play. I’d like to run WoW’s UP for the mount once a week, and perhaps a few other mindless farming tasks, but only to be able to say I’ve collected those pixels. Knowing that I’ll likely play WoW in the future means that the heat is drained from the desire to login to farm. I can farm later between other activities.

So now its books, pen and paper games, and catching up on TV shows.

Penultimate Hearthstone thoughts

How can I say these are my penultimate Hearthstone thoughts when the game is not even out of a closed-ish beta? Well I’m kind of over it. I’m only saying penultimate because I will post something when it “launches” properly, but I don’t think it will change my impressions.

The short version: HearthStone is not for me. I don’t hate it, I just don’t particularly like it either. I’d rather play something else.

I was essentially bored within 10-15 games, and was proceeding through the rest of the games because I thought there was something I was missing. There is more, far more.

The execution of the game is solid, the gameplay is probably great if you like that sort of thing, and it was as complete in beta as many other games are launch. Kudos Blizzard. Not for me though.

click here for TCG grinding

Continue reading

Hmm. Does itemisation count for adding new WoW classes?

Another happy random topic out on WowInsider – What classes would you like to see come to WoW? I wrote:

I think they got the monk very right, except that the Monk wears leather as implemented in WoW. The game’s presentation of monks before this (via Scarlet Mon and others) was as cloth wearers and it would have been interesting to see them as cloth wearers.

So hmm, on reflection my comment was not especially on topic, but I felt it needed to be said.

Itemisation in the game wold have to change a lot to add cloth which is agility based from level 2 upward, and it would also have not helped that only a small range of uses are out there for leather with intellect and spirit. So perhaps the leather wearing monks were an easier path to introduce.

(…note: I’ll say as a lead in to this post that I liked the amalgamation of armour type with stats that was performed. Having some classes gain Hit from Spirit to reduce the range of stat combos which needed to be supplied by boss kills was clever.

I’ll say too that I am mostly for leaving the classes as they are. This is more a post about options, rather than an actual wishlist. I got the Monk class I said I wanted, but now that I have it I’m not keen as it was implemented. That is all my problem, as I accept the choices that Blizzard made happily.

Lastly I know that opening all the classes to all the races is an option, and it is another option that I’d like to see never happen. The story reason for adding anything to the game should be profound and strong. A Pandaren Death Knight is just not likely, especially in the numbers of players who would do it. Saying no to that spread of class race mixes is not a bad thing.

The ideas below conflict with that. Sorry.)

So then now we could see (but probably won’t) a cloth wearing class added? Not so sure. We have 34 specs in play at the moment, with 3x wearing plate, 3x wearing leather, 3x cloth and only 2x wearing mail.

spirit-healer

We’ve had Monks and Death Knights as new classes, so having more plate and leather conflict is going to be disruptive. We still have a single class using Plate with Intellect (caster plate) though, and the same problem in Mail caster gear. Perhaps that is a major force in what class style is introduced – add something which has less major rework required at the low end, and can give diversity to the gear spread at the high end.

So if a class was to be added it could be added to the mail category wearing Agi based and Intellect based armour. Hmm, what classes might use intellect based mail armour?

  • Demon Hunter? Uhh blarg. Too much like hunter.
  • Warmage? Or call it a Warden. A dps caster, a healer, plus melee, plus Tank who wears heavier armour than cloth, but still not a plate wearing, weapon wielding melee guy. Mail suits that concept a lot. It might have 4x spec options to keep adding breadth of choice into the game. It makes for a further mess in the spec line-up.

And now onto even stranger thoughts…

Or perhaps a class is added where their armour sub-type changes according to their active spec? Just because we have the alignment to date does not mean it actually needs to be maintained. We’ve always seen classes change their choice in weapons to suit a role, so why not their choice of armour?

Or perhaps we might see every class which has current specs which are very similar redone? i.e. Fire mage vs Frost mage, vs Arcane mage is essentially a range caster dps with a flavour and play-style. Good on them. Same kind of thing with Rogues, and certainly same kind of thing with Death Knight unholy and frost. A disc priest and holy priest also both heal, but do so in very different ways.

What if those differences were rolled into the Talent choices in the early talent trees and new and very different spec choices were added? Such as:

  • Unholy DK becomes a range caster and summoner. It suits a nice little angle of on the lore which has always been present and I do not think it would hurt greatly. It also has the advantage of adding Plate Int a new use, although also makes itemisation in the class more painful. Perhaps they also use staves and such of the casters too. The cross-itemisation might make the fight for gear more prolific, but it would also widen the range of use.
  • One of Disc & Holy is subsumed and Priests get a melee “pugilist” spec. Friar tuck with a staff, maces, or some such? (very close to what I thought a Monk would be like)
  • Hunters get a spec where they have no pet at all, but instead move into melee mode. I know that “melee hunter” is a great meme, but it would finally make my Hunter playable o suit my style.
  • I don’t know what to do with Mages and Rogues, except to make their alt-odd-spec something which changes their mode of play. How do you alter a Rogue to be either range or a heal/tank? I don’t think it can be done well. Perhaps these guys are the real straight dps in their role.

And finally what other classes might we see have a go?

  • A summoner type. Ala the Witch Doctor in D3? Hmm a clothie. It makes a sort of sense except it feels overtly niche. What is the Warcraft lore reference?
  • An engineer-ish Tinker? Very odd cross-over with the Engineering skill, and it would make an overly bold steam/magic-punk addition for my taste.
  • Bloody Bards. As healers and damage they make sense, they could provide the cross range of buffs. Armor type for bards feels like Mail as well.

cropped-nerbian-entrance.jpg

Happy hunting.

HearthStone, Impressions so far

A week ago I downloaded and started playing HearthStone. For a beta it is solid.There were no graphical glitches, error 37s, or other strange config things going on to hamper getting in straight away to play.

Overall – I’ve now been reminded why I hate “Draw a Card” based games and why I just stayed away from MtG when it was repeatedly offered at game stores and roleplaying tables. The degree of “random” in what powers can be used when is a key issue for how the game plays. That might be a cornerstone of this style of game and a known factor to many players, but for me it is farcical.

The darn game could be renamed “The Frustration of RNG”.

hstoneBannerKnowing that a deck contains a few handy abilities to your current situation and not getting them for turn after turn is way too frustrating. Twelve or so games into the normal Practice modes where you try to unlock the other classes and I was almost screaming at the screen. I certainly thumped the table. I am also consistently frustrated by how often the NPCs is able to pull the “right” move. Kill a taunt empowered card and the NPC drops another straight down. For pity’s sake. The NPCs seem to always have the right card as follow-up. Screw this.

One battle my “Heroic” Mage drew no extra minion cards for 5x rounds – in a game based upon using minions and specials to win! In another game which came down to both heroes being on less that 5 HP at the last turn I’d never seen a Fireball card (4pts cost inflicting 6 damage). ON A MAGE!

I also noticed that there is a certain strategy in not just using cards because you can deploy them. The NPCs in Practice mode seem to hold cards early and then swamp the board later. The NPCs in the tutorial games are softer and seem to have worse luck with cards. I’d like to know if the NPCs are at the same “level” as my hero or am I being challenged by level 10 opponents while tooling around on a level 1-3.

That aside…

  • Too many “click to proceed” things from the time you open the app to the time you are actually about to play. Animations are slow (on my laptop). I think that is by design in HearthStone as WoW plays fine on the same laptop and it cannot be using much in the way of a 3d engine.
  • Overall I’d like it to “play quicker”. Show cards quicker, etc.
  • The initial training fights have the odd “Grom Dar!”, “You will burn”, and other character based emotes and actions, and its funny now but after a few games I started wondering how old that will get.

After the training five or so fights, the player is tasked with defeating the other classes. Some classes seem already freaking cool, and others disadvantaged.

The Mage (starter) has a 2pt special power which delivers 1x damage, and it can be used every turn if you wish. By contrast the Hunter has a 2pt ability which inflicts 2x damage. Why? I note that the Mage can always ping 1pt, but the hunter can sometimes not, but that is a trivial limitation on a game where we usually have other uses for those points.

So far I’ve unlocked the Warrior, Shaman, and Priest so far, and find the Warlocks, Hunters, and Druids darn tough to beat. I’ve heard that Rogues are tough to content with, but both my matches have been down to the wire although I’ve lost both too.

The Warlock’s draw a card power is fantastic, and I am repeatedly fighting and getting trounced by the Warlock because I think that ability will suit how I like to play. Sure it might cost a few health, but a Card per 2pts is trivial if you have only a few cards left in your hand. The Druid being able to directly attack is great. It might only be useful periodically, but it seems hardy and appropriate to the class.

The Monk and Death Knight are not present as classes and I can forgive that given how much diversity there is already in the class mix.

Thoughts from 5.1 patch notes

Some odd stuff:

Spirit of Harmony can now be purchased for 600 Conquest Points at the Conquest Quartermaster.

Can I convert the other way please? Please? And to VPs not Conquest? That would be bloody wonderful. 1x SoH granting 600 VP would be like Christmas. I know, dream on.

Portal Shards grow into consumable items which can be used to open a portal from Sunsong Ranch to a major faction city.

That’s handy. Although I’d say just buy yourself the Stormwind cloak and use it to teleport. Less farming and it never runs out.

A search bar has been added to the mount section of the Mount and Pet Journal. The Mount and Pet Journal remembers which tab you were last using.

Good. It needed it.

Banquet of the Steamer and Great Banquet of the Steamer now correctly provide Intellect to damage based casting classes. Healers will continue to gain Spirit from these foods.

This will make a huge amount of raiders happy. Bravo.

 

 

Theramore down

My impressions for the Theramore scenario are not good. Frankly it was so underwhelming that I wasn’t sure what to think. From what I have seen in this one, the scenarios at level 90 had better have better introduction and lore aspects, and they better have a faster queue time than 20+ minutes for randoms. Fortunately there is some time for a few changes or tweaks.  I am happy to see lore than can be skipped like Arthas in Culling of Stratholme, but it should be there. The scenario did what it indicated for Alliance – Theramore gets destroyed, and we are there to help mop up the baddies, but the manner in which this is executed within the game is off.

Read more after the break for the QQ. Continue reading

Diablo Beta thoughts

After completing the Diablo Beta I have some thoughts.

It is a good game, and feels basically ready. I’m looking forward to it. In the Beta test I played a Barbarian almost through to the end, and a Wizard through to completion. I’ll go back and try the other classes now, but probably not play them right through, as I want to also play them when the game is actually live.

Play-style wise I’d recommend that every player try each class; they really play differently. Music was nice, sound effects, nice, and the few special encounters and scenes I saw (Sword of Leoric) were really nice. Well done Blizzard. Continue reading

Feelings on GM retirement

Part of the challenge to play wow well is at a basic level having enough time to make progress. There is a minimum amount of time needed to do any particular task, and of late my time available has been decreasing – this is especially true of any player who wishes to also have a controlling role in a guild structure. It takes a bit (or a lot) more time than just playing.

In future I expect it to get even harder to get a regular cycle of time each week, so (with much apprehension) I’ve retired as GM of the Insidious guild, returning the title to the old GM. In hindsight I have some thoughts on being a guildie, a GM, and a player that I thought might be interesting to others. Continue reading

Looking back to the beginning of Wrath

What are your fondest memories from the beginning of this expansion?

  1. I thought I’d only play the Death Knight as a distraction, and it became my new toon. I came very quickly to love melee dps, and the DK combined all wonderful things of the Paladin Tank with the Druid-Cat dps. Leveling through 68-80 was time consuming because we were playing catch-up to the guys who started at 70 – that said, I didn’t mind.
  2. I wanted to see Naxx in the flesh, and was not disappointed. Naxx is a wonderful instance.
  3. I thought Ulduar would be game changing and was let down. It was fantastic, but also so large and time consuming that it was very difficult for me to see most of it. General Vez is as far as I’ve seen and I doubt I’ll see further.
  4. The storyline was very enticing and exciting, and I think this has been maintained well over the course of the game.
  5. I was stoked about new gear, but think the gear has also been too spread apart, which now means we are seeing iLevels beyond what I thought was possible. For example an early epic to be around iL 200, and we can now get 265 gear! Makes you wonder what level the L81 Blue items will be.

… a shared topic on the Blog Azeroth Forum